House buying process takes longer in the South East than anywhere else in the UK: Property news roundup

Plus, neighbour damage, Boris Island effect, Help to Buy figures, and what makes a dream home?

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The Independent Online

House buying process takes almost double the amount of time in the South East compared to Scotland, according to a new report.

The research from removals company Bishop’s Move found that nearly half of those in the South East take between 10 and 15 weeks to get their property transactions completed. Meanwhile, in Scotland those buying a home are in their new property on average within just six weeks

In the North East, just over 40 per cent are in their new homes within six weeks from having an offer accepted and 54 per cent in the South West complete their moves within nine weeks.

"With a buoyant housing market across the South East, it comes as a surprise to see transactions taking so long across the region," said Chris Marshall, Sales and Marketing Director at Bishop’s Move. "It remains to be seen whether this points to a lack of resources against what is currently a high number of moves."

Neighbour damage

One in four people have had their property damaged by a neighbour, says a new report from Direct Line Home Insurance.

Damage to shared walls/fencing was the most common problem, affecting a third of all those who have experienced damage to their home. Other causes were accidental damage caused by their neighbours, their children or guests (27 per cent), damage by uncared for gardens (25 per cent) and neighbours’ pest or vermin problems (24 per cent).

The report also showed that only 57 per cent of neighbours who caused the damage admitted to doing so and more than a third of neighbours where damage was a problem have fallen out as a resullt.

A separate report from furniture etailer shows that one in three homeowners polled have reported more issues with neighbours than normal this year. A third of those say that the neighbours they have the most disputes with are first time buyers: a quarter believe this is down to their inexperience in dealing with neighbourhood politics and 18 per cent because they were less knowledgeable about property ownership laws.

Help to Buy

Government figures shows that 48,000 people have now bought a home using the Help to Buy scheme using the equity loan and mortgage guarantee schemes.

Just over 80 per cent of users have been first-time buyers, with the average house price at£187,800. A total of 94 per cent of Help to Buy completions took place outside London.

Boris Island

The rejection of the 'Boris Island' development plan by the Airports Commission could have a major effect on house prices in North Kent and South Essex, according to

"In our Property Hot Spot Index for June, Medway, the epicentre of properties that would potentially be affected by Boris Island, saw the biggest fall in demand of all UK areas," said Russell Quirk, CEO of

"Consequently we are predicting a significant rise in house prices along the North Kent coast now that Boris has lost the battle of the skies in the Thames Estuary. If you live in the Medway area, Canterbury, Whitstable, The Isle Of Sheppey, etc, expect to see a rise of at least 20 per cent plus in the next 12 months."

Buyers' dream homes

Research from consumer campaigners Ask for Underfloor shows that 58 per cent of homehunters are looking for a house that needs no major work carrying out, 47 per cent for features to help them to reduce fuel bills and 42 per cent for a house that is easy to clean and maintain. A third also want to live near their friends and family.

In terms of  features, 36 per cent are looking for a property with a conservatory, a similar figure want underfloor heating, and just under a third would like a double garage. Around 12 per cent would ideally want a Jacuzzi bath.

Two thirds of house hunters say they would not make an offer on a house or flat if the rooms were too small, while 39 per cent are put off by poorly positioned windows.

One in ten of those polled said they would pay up to £10,000 more for a home with the right features.